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Koala sitting on the ground © Theo Allofs - Getty Images

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) sitting on ground © Theo Allofs / Getty Images

How much can a koala bear? WWF calls on NSW Premier to keep Aussie animals safe

01 Mar 2015

Keywords
  • climate change
  • environmental laws
  • koalas
  • protected areas
  • tree-clearing

Global conservation group WWF today weighed into the NSW election, calling on Premier Mike Baird to save the homes of 250,000 Australian animals.
 
NSW’s wildlife laws have saved the lives of more than 250,000 native animals in just five years. However, the NSW Government is now considering recommendations that would scrap the laws that protect their home - our forests and bushland – from being destroyed.

WWF-Australia, joining forces with a broad range of conservation groups, today launched a series of billboards on busy roads across western Sydney. The billboards, featuring a koala, call on the NSW Government to protect the Nature Vegetation Act from being destroyed.

WWF-Australia spokesperson Paul Toni said native vegetation delivered huge economic benefits including conserving farm topsoil, providing shelter for stock and crops, pollination and pest control, and moderating the regional and global climate.
 
“Keeping these laws would be a win for common sense,” Mr Toni said.
 
“From the bush to the beach, NSW nature belongs to all of us.
 
“Repealing the Native Vegetation Act would mean more bush gets cut down and more animals’ lives are put at risk.
 
“The Premier can save the homes of 250,000 Aussie animals, by protecting the laws that protect the wildlife we love.”
 
The coalition of conservation groups backing the billboards includes WWF-Australia, Nature Conservation Council NSW, National Parks Association of NSW, The Wilderness Society, Birdlife Australia, Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Total Environment Centre, and Humane Society International.
 
The environmental groups said further actions would be announced during the week to make the environment a key issue in the election.
 
The billboards were erected over the weekend and are located in the suburbs of Granville, Auburn, Parramatta, Kingswood, Homebush, Lidcombe, Guildford, Chester Hill, Rydalmere and Holroyd.
 
WWF-Australia Media Contact:

Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager

Notes to editors:
In 2005, the Native Vegetation Act 2003 came into force. The Act was the result of an agreement between farmers, government, scientists and environmentalists.
 
Under the Act, the broad-scale clearing of forests and woodlands ('bushland') was prohibited unless it could be demonstrated that the clearing would 'improve or maintain environmental outcomes', primarily by protecting areas of recovering bushland to offset the areas being cleared. 
 
A 2014 WWF report, NSW Native Vegetation Act saves Australian wildlifeconcluded that the NSW Native Vegetation Act prevented 265,000 native mammal deaths in just five years.
 
In June 2014 the NSW Government established the Independent Biodiversity Review Panel to review existing state conservation laws and make recommendations for a new Biodiversity Conservation Act to replace the existing Native Vegetation Act, Threatened Species Act and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act.  The Review Panel released its Final Report on 18 December 2014, making 43 recommendations. The recommendations, if adopted, will effectively scrap many of NSW’s bushland protections.
 
Over the past 20 years taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to reduce the impacts of clearing of native vegetation including under the national ‘Save the Bush’ and ‘One Billion Trees’ programs in the 1990s, the $2.7 billion dollar Bushcare, Rivercare and Landcare programs under Natural Heritage Trust and National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality in the late 1990s and 2000s, $2 billion under the Caring for our Country programs in the late 2000s, as well as various NSW Government programs including landholder assistance under them Native Vegetation Assistance Package.
 
The Review Panel’s Report, particularly the proposal to remove the legal test that requires the local environment to be ‘improved or maintained’, suggests much of that funding is about to be wasted.

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